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Cass County Board: Despite COVID-19 challenges, Cass County health and social services busy in 2021

Highlights were the collaborative vaccine events, a career day event at Cass Lake Bena School, the hire of the new Veteran Services Officer Kristy Smart and the groundbreaking ceremony for Bemidji’s new veterans’ home.

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.<br/>
Brainerd Dispatch

WALKER — Cass County continued to provide health and social services without interruption despite numerous challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services reported.

Tammey Stacey and Jeri Seegmiller of Health, Human and Veterans Services, along with Jim Schneider, director of probation, presented the information during the department’s annual report Tuesday, April 5, to Cass County commissioners.

Some of the highlights for the year reported were the collaborative vaccine events between Indian Health Services Cass Lake, Leech Lake Public Health and Cass County Public Health; a career day event at Cass Lake Bena School; the hire of the new Veteran Services Officer Kristy Smart; and the groundbreaking ceremony for Bemidji’s new veterans’ home.

Income maintenance

Cass County processed payments for $123,007,939 in health service bills for people who qualified for state and federal medical assistance in 2021.

Other services for qualified people and the average monthly 2021 benefits were:

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  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for low-income people, $244,
  • Minnesota Family Investment Program for low-income families and pregnant women, $411,
  • Diversionary Work Program for families looking for work, $126,
  • Child care assistance for families with low income, $3,560,
  • General assistance for adults who have little or no income and can return to work, $156,
  • Emergency assistance for low-income people in an emergency who need food, shelter, utilities, $207,
  • Group residential housing for room and board for people age 65 or older and for disabled people age 18 and older or those who are blind, who live in authorized settings, $352,
  • Minnesota Supplemental Aid for adults who are eligible for federal Supplemental Security Income, $92.
The DNR is asking for a letter of support in acquiring some parcels currently owned by The Conservation Fund in Cass County. Townships want Wildlife Management Area designation.

Child support

The county is working to increase the current collections and reduce the arrears that are accumulating, officials reported. Cass collected $2,482,890 and paid $2,426,693 to custodial parents for child support during 2021. The majority of child support was collected through income withholding, followed by direct cash or checks.

Public health — children, youth and families

During 2021, the Women, Infants and Children program continued to be serviced via phone calls due to COVID-19 restrictions and had an average of 424 participants. Participants were issued $287,980 worth of food assistance benefits between October of 2020 and September of 2021.

The Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting nurses conducted 327 visits to 47 families. This is a free, voluntary program that provides public health nurse home visits to families during pregnancy and up to the baby’s second birthday.

Public health — home health, long-term care, prevention

As COVID-19 continued to bring challenges to home care services during 2021, home health was still able to conduct 699 skilled nurse visits, 358 home health aide visits, and 124 physical therapy visits for a total of 1,181 home visits.

During 2021, Cass County received a grant of $607,276 for vaccine planning and implementation. With the grant, the county was able to administer 5,383 vaccines to eligible residents.

The “Take It To The Box” program continues to be effective in promoting the safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of unneeded over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and narcotic drugs, officials reported. A total of 554.43 pounds of medication was disposed of during 2021.

Mental health, chemical dependency

Cass County had 159 adult and 42 children mental health intakes in 2021. A total of 51 commitments were initiated, with 19 having been discharged and 32 currently committed.

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Adult/child protection

Officials said there were 351 adult maltreatment reports, with the majority of those being self neglect. In 2021, there were a total of 387 child protective service intakes, with 58% of those being due to neglect.

Out-of-home placement

During 2021, a total of 34 juveniles/children who were screened went into an out-of-home placement for over 30 days, while 11 were discharged and have not returned to placement. Twenty of the juveniles/children were placed into relative foster care, which is the preferred method, while the others were placed in non-relative foster care, residential care or a residential group home. The majority of the children were placed outside their own home for neglect, followed by mental health issues, with a few for alcohol/drug abuse and behavior problems.

The majority were age 15 and younger, with 19 girls and 15 boys screened. There was an equal number of white and Native American with none being Black.

For the complete HHVS Annual report, go to www.co.cass.mn.us .

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